Director Brent Christensen of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), and Minister Chen, Taiwan Ministry of Health & Welfare have committed to increasing US-Taiwan cooperation to combat COVID-19. As indicated in the March 18, 2020 joint statement this cooperation has included the development of rapid tests, vaccines, medicines, tracing technology, and medical supply exchange. Taiwan has been globally recognized for its effective control of the virus spread, and now with infection rates under control with only 395 cases and six deaths as of April 15, 2020, Taiwan looks outward to provide medical supplies to its allies most in need. The United States is slated to receive two million medical masks by the end of April. Christensen paid a visit on April 9, 2020 alongside ministry health officials to see off the two million masks as they were loaded onto trucks in route for hospitals across the United States. US government and AIT officials have expressed great thanks to President Tsai and the people of Taiwan for their commitment in helping the international community.
While governmental relations between the United States and Taiwan remain informal and facilitated by AIT and Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in kind, connections between the United States and the people of Taiwan are stronger than ever. Taiwan and the United States share 148 sister cities, Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, Chair of the Foreign Relations subcommittee for Asia, looks forward to bringing 100,000 of those masks back to medical professionals in his home state of Colorado which is home to one of such sister city relationships between Colorado Springs and Kaohsiung Taiwan. Gardner hosted President Tsai during her visit to Denver Colorado in July 2019. This visit included stops at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), which was responsible for developing FormoSat-7, the second satellite constellation jointly built by Taiwanese and US research and development teams.
People-to-people and economic ties between the United States and Taiwan have dramatically increased over the last decade. From 2007- 2018 the number of US exchange students in Taiwan has increased by 110%, and in turn, Taiwan is ranked 7th in the Indo-Pacific for top places of origin of international students to the United States. Tourism exchange ranks equally high, with Taiwan taking 6th in the Indo-Pacific for number of visitors to the United States - contributing approximately $3.23 billion to the US economy annually. Finally, as one of the top 10 trading partners for the United States, and the 5th
largest Indo-Pacific Greenfield investor ($16.2 billion dollars between 2003 and 2018), Taiwan has a shared vested interest in the health and welfare of the American people. While COVID-19 may the rate of mutual exchange and tourism for some time, Taiwan providing these masks is a token of goodwill to the American people, and hope for the swift return of normal relations post pandemic.
Charity Borg is a research intern in the Young Professionals Program at the East-West Center in Washington. She is a Captain in the United States Air Force and graduated from Northeastern University with a Master of Science degree in international relations in 2019.